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So April has arrived:

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.

and with it a major announcement from one of our distinguished bloggers. I read it on Tuesday the second, so perhaps my fake news filters had been disabled. Please say it isn’t so, ulaca!

Anyway, the crossword. This one must have been relatively easy, I think, since I finished it on a phone in under 20 minutes during breaks during a busy day. Indeed, many of the clues are quite easy to parse, as you’ll see. Are there any impressive times to report?

There were several clues where I was confident of the answer and guessed at the relevant general knowledge, which I have (of course) since confirmed for this blog. There were lots of nice clues. I particularly liked 27ac. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC'. Deletions are in [square brackets].

Across
1 Weapon associated with Beckett’s last play? (6)
TRIFLE: [becket]T, RIFLE.

5 Epicurean academic involved in robbery (8)
HEDONIST: DON in HEIST.

9 Flying to new river, some migratory birds do it (10)
OVERWINTER: anagram (“flying”) of (TO NEW RIVER*).

10 Put to flight? Not quite the way (4)
ROUT: not quite ROUT[e].

11 Condescending aristocrat linked to Society by mistake (8)
SNOBBISH: S=society, NOB=aristocrat, BISH=mistake.

12 Shrewd king attached to fourth wife’s place briefly (6)
CLEVER: R (king) “attached to” CLEVE[s]. Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII.

13 Head of zoo worried about letter from abroad (4)
ZETA: Z[oo], then ATE (worried) reversed (“about”).

15 Record held by male ship’s officer’s wife? (8)
HELPMATE: LP (record) “held by” HE / MATE.

18 Very English woman engaging daughter in dingdong battle (8)
VENDETTA: V, E, NETTA “engaging” D. The definition seems a little astray to me: a vendetta is more a feud than just a battle, I’d have thought.

19 Possibly Lord North’s record, not his (4)
TORY: [his]TORY = record. Frederick North. Sounds like he was more or less one of the founders of the Tory Party?

21 Test, for example, set by duke in club (6)
DRIVER: D for duke, then the Test is a RIVER.

23 Claim of Queen overwhelmed by defeat in Irish county (8)
LIMERICK: Her Majesty might rightly claim, “I’M ER”. Let that be “overwhelmed” by LICK.

25 Graduate taken in about small Scottish port (4)
OBAN: BA “taken in” ON. Very tricky to have “small” as part of the definition, not wordplay!

26 Lying aircraftman promises to pay after repair (10)
MENDACIOUS: MEND, AC, IOUS.

27 American word for a boundary marker (8)
TERMINUS: an American word might be a TERM IN US.

28 Singer’s baggage initially left in plane, perhaps (6)
TREBLE: B[aggage] and L[eft] in TREE.


Down
2 Flighty type given note after party (5)
RAVEN: RAVE, N.

3 Following start of improvement, update image of agitator (9)
FIREBRAND: F[ollowing], I[mprovement], REBRAND.

4 Draw out? It’s against the law, we hear (6)
ELICIT: sounds like ILLICIT.

5 Become prominent making banners? (3,3,9)
HIT THE HEADLINES: I think this just a cryptic definition, unless I am missing something (as I feel I may be).

6 Produce plays, casting odd characters without delay (8)
DIRECTLY:DIRECT (produce), LY (even characters of pLaYs).

7 Language used in Alsten or Senja (5)
NORSE: another cryptic definition, and also a hidden answer, altogether making an &lit. type clue. I assumed the places named were towns, but no, they are islands – in Norway of course.

8 It helps keep the salt dry in sweet-and-sour cooking (9)
SOU’WESTER: anagram (“cooking”) of (SWEET SOUR*).

14 Abhorrent mob half-heartedly supporting administrator (9)
EXECRABLE: EXEC, RAB[b]LE.

16 Vehicle a man used to carry books — or book? (9)
MOTORBIKE: OT (books) OR B (book), all in MIKE. Nice clue, I thought.

17 Warehouse employee, awfully mean sort (8)
STOREMAN: anagram (“awfully”) of (MEAN SORT*).

20 The writer’s role, to communicate (6)
IMPART: I’M (the writer is), PART (role).

22 Malice shown by highly honoured archdeacon? (5)
VENOM: VEN (archdeacon), OM (highly honoured).

24 Old peasant’s horse kept in by lock (5)
CHURL: H for horse in CURL.

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
john_dun
Apr. 5th, 2019 11:15 pm (UTC)
I found this pretty straightforward too, taking only 14:37 to complete it. OVERWINTER seemed an odd word, but it had to be. Thanks setter and Bruce. It was indeed a relief to find that Ulaca's Tuesday bombshell was an April Fool Joke.
kevingregg
Apr. 5th, 2019 11:32 pm (UTC)
19:19
Not a lot to say about this one. I agree about VENDETTA; and I could have done without NETTA as our random woman. LOI MOTORBIKE, which took me some time to parse.
john_dun
Apr. 5th, 2019 11:40 pm (UTC)
Re: 19:19
I originally had the same misgivings over VENDETTA, but then thought that ding dong perhaps indicated something ongoing, or to-ing and fro-ing.
martinp1
Apr. 6th, 2019 03:25 am (UTC)
29m 37s
Like Kevin, I haven't much to say about this. Thank you, Bruce, for MOTORBIKE and TERMINUS. The former, along with TORY were my LOI. "Helps keep the salt dry" in 8d made me groan!
Along with others I'm pleased Ulaca's blog post was a "Poisson d'Avril" althopugh he disguised it well!
jackkt
Apr. 6th, 2019 05:31 am (UTC)
Yes, mostly straightforward although I had to take CHURL = peasant on trust, not actually knowing it other than in the more usual 'churlish' context.

Re 5dn, it's not been mentioned, so I will do so, that 'banners' are large wide headlines in a newspaper, usually on a front page, sometimes aka 'screamers'.
boltonwanderer
Apr. 6th, 2019 06:05 am (UTC)
The worst prime minister since the last one
25 minutes on this relatively straightforward offering for a Saturday..LOI was OVERWINTER. It's become a potitical cliché to describe a prime minister as the worst since Lord North. I know that he lost America, but even so he must have been bad if he was worse than several of my lifetime. Apparently, he looked so much like George III that many believed them to be brothers, with Frederick, Prince of Wales the suspected father. I think I sometimes elongate the E in ELICIT, as if it was something legal on the internet, and sometimes not, so it's an occasional homophone with 'illicit' for me. COD to SOUWESTER. Thank you Bruce and setter
davidivad1
Apr. 6th, 2019 07:05 am (UTC)
Re: The worst prime minister since the last one
Yes, he does look like George III -see my comment below.
philjordan
Apr. 6th, 2019 06:45 am (UTC)
I've never metta....
....woman called NETTA. I could only find an Israeli pop singer of that name on Google search. A random name that was 9 on a scale of 10.

OBAN is an important ferry terminal, and not particularly small, but I'll buy it.

FOI HEDONIST
LOI CLEVER
COD SOUWESTER
TIME 12:13
jackkt
Apr. 6th, 2019 07:49 am (UTC)
Re: I've never metta....
Apparently Netta comes from Antionette and particularly in Scotland it's a nickname for Agnes. But no, I also never metta Netta.
boltonwanderer
Apr. 6th, 2019 08:10 am (UTC)
There's no one left here to tell
Dylan wrote a great song for his Modern Times album, Nettie Moore. The name was borrowed from an 1857 composition by the writer of Jingle Bells, Gentle Nettie Moore.
z8b8d8k
Apr. 6th, 2019 09:41 am (UTC)
Greater Oban
As is my wont, when towns turn up in the crossword, I took a quick Street View tour of OBAN. Small certainly doesn't seem apposite: it's big enough to have a Cathedral, and a rather elegant Kebabish.
davidivad1
Apr. 6th, 2019 07:03 am (UTC)
QC report
This puzzle was a pleasure which I tackled on the way to watch North End play badly against Reading. I had only three left after 20 minutes but I was held up by MOTORBIKE, CHURL and LOI TORY. Also I could not parse DRIVER, thanks for that.I only got TORY by remembering that Lord North St in London is associated with the conservatives.
By chance I was in the National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday and was struck by the number of paintings of politicians and the House of Commons debating some crucial new bill or dealing with major issues. For example, Churchill after the Dardanelles and of course Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford (sic) looking a lot like George III.
David

Edited at 2019-04-06 07:06 am (UTC)
gothick_matt
Apr. 6th, 2019 08:48 am (UTC)
48 minutes, so not particularly fast for me. I do have "witty!" scrawled under my time, so I must've enjoyed this one. Needed to take a few things on trust, as others have observed, "Netta" probably being the biggest reach. I'm with John on thinking that "ding-dong" at least indicates something of the tit-for-tat nature of a VENDETTA.

FOI 15a ZETA—always handy if you can spot a Greek letter clue where the first letter's obvious—LOI 2a TERMINUS, which made me smile, as did 23's LIMERICK.

Edited at 2019-04-06 08:49 am (UTC)
jerrywh
Apr. 6th, 2019 08:55 am (UTC)
5dn is a DD, become prominent, and make banners, ie banner headlines
keriothe
Apr. 6th, 2019 01:32 pm (UTC)
The clue says 'making banners', so I don't think this is right. I think it's a straight definition with a cryptic bit tacked on.
z8b8d8k
Apr. 6th, 2019 09:33 am (UTC)
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
A gentle breeze of 14 minutes, liking especially the SOU'WESTER clue. One of those "who'd 'a' thought it" anagrams, and I smiled rather than groaned at the definition.
z8b8d8k
Apr. 6th, 2019 09:45 am (UTC)
Oh, and nice time on a phone, B. On mine, its like doing keyhole surgery (I imagine!) and inevitably takes longer.
pipkirby
Apr. 6th, 2019 11:26 am (UTC)
19 minutes, nothing dodgy or difficult. I agree can't see anything extra in 5d, not a great clue. Today's is a really good one though.
special_bitter
Apr. 6th, 2019 12:09 pm (UTC)
23:08 not too difficult but a few nice touches. I liked sou'wester and terminus.
astonvilla1
Apr. 6th, 2019 01:10 pm (UTC)
17:47
Straightforward enough I thought. I slowed myself down by putting in the nonexistent play "Lancet".

COD: SOUWESTER.

My Grand National hopes are with JURY DUTY, each way.

Edited at 2019-04-06 01:17 pm (UTC)
keriothe
Apr. 6th, 2019 01:33 pm (UTC)
8:43. Straightforward one.
I see from the leaderboard that verlaine did this in under 4 minutes, so the answer to your question is yes!
harmonic_row
Apr. 6th, 2019 02:28 pm (UTC)
17 mins. No dramas.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 6th, 2019 03:17 pm (UTC)
Ariel
Cool
falooker
Apr. 6th, 2019 05:52 pm (UTC)
It's a bit late to add anything. But this was a nice straightforward puzzle after a couple of stinkers. 20 minutes. Ann
bruce_in_aus
Jul. 17th, 2019 07:29 pm (UTC)
It's never too late Ann ... from my part of the world with these puzzles
Thanks setter and Bruce
Pick at this one in fits and starts and was able to finish it off in a 20 minute last effort when I had more time.
Didn't think twice about the definition for VENDETTA ... but did wonder about the random woman's name for a minute. Thought that both LIMERICK and TERMINUS were clever clues.
Finished in the SW corner with DRIVER (well disguised this one), OBAN (after inexplicably writing down OMAN at first - not the for the first time with this place) and EXECRABLE (when I got the error out of the way).
corymbia
Sep. 28th, 2019 02:23 am (UTC)
Never ever too late
We are doing the crossword late but keeping it in season . It’s springtime here in the SW antipodes. Raisin toast, coffee and crossword for breakfast, looking out over the valley from the farmhouse.
25 minutes , so under par , to start the day well. Particularly liked TERMINUS.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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